I can’t think of many things in the Bible harder to live out than Ephesians 5, where the wife is instructed to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ and husbands are instructed to love their wives like Christ loves the church. (It’s not all that easy to teach either!)
Since Ephesians 5:21 sets the tone for the passage, telling a spouse to submit to one another, we know we can’t adopt an interpretation where the husband is domineering and the wife is completely passive. (That certainly doesn’t sound like mutual submission.)
Perhaps the most practical answer is for wives to think about how they love and respect Jesus and then to consider if there’s anything transferable to how they might show love to their husbands. We know that husbands are particularly vulnerable regarding the issue of respect (see 5:33). For the sake of honoring Jesus, is there any way you could love and honor your husband better?
the same approach works for husbands. Is there anything about the way that Jesus showed loved for the church that’s transferable to how a husband can better love his wife? Don’t forget, Jesus was the first to forgive, the first to humble himself, the first to serve, the first to give up his rights for the sake of the church. I wonder what my marriage would look like if I simply started there?
None of us will do this perfectly, of course, and it’s not our performance that God is judging. I think he’s got his eye on our heart. Does our heart desire to honor him in our marriage? Are we aligned with his vision for marriage so that the world might, in some miraculous way, see a picture of how Jesus loves the church and how the church loves him back? Let’s set our hearts on this. I’m certain we’ll see the power of God blessing as we do.